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Conference paper
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Australia demonstrates a unique spatial pattern whereby approximately half of the population resides within seven kilometres (and eighty-five percent within fifty kilometres) of the coast, and eighty-nine percent live in areas defined as ‘urban’ but that have a relatively low population density. This differs notably from the geographies evident of (predominantly) European and North American cities that form the basis for most theories, concepts and best-practice cases surrounding the creation of supportive environments for walking and cycling. Indeed, much criticism regarding such concepts being adopted in Australian settings (and uncertainties by advocates on the transferability of these ideas) centres on these contextual differences, particularly if they are viewed as being prohibitive barriers. With this in mind, this paper draws on census data as well as existing literature on coastal Australian communities and on the ‘downscaling’ of broader planning concepts to smaller metropolitan areas to identify some key characteristics of ‘Australian coastal communities.’ This framework is then used to examine concepts of walkability and cycling-friendly environments, comparing the Australian coastal communities of Port Macquarie (NSW) and the Sutherland-Cronulla region (NSW) to Portland, Oregon (USA), Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and Copenhagen (Denmark). This allows for concepts of creating supportive environments for cycling and walkability from Europe and North America that are also applicable to an Australian coastal community setting to be identified. It also allows an initial exploration of where comparable ideas might be adapted to an Australian context, and where the Australian coastal context might represent opportunities to extend existing concepts further.

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